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[asset|aid=995|format=image|formatter=asset|title=25687363.JPG|width=306|height=203|align=left|resizable=true]Some polling places ran out of ballots. Others had armed police officers present, a violation of state election rules. Some voters endured hours of waiting, in some places as long as eleven hours, and malfunctioning ballot machines, a few which stubbornly voted for the candidate that the voter did not choose. Pollsworkers ran out of ballots or people who weren't registered by a pollworker voted by sneaking into the voting booth through a side door.
At an election that has registered a record-breaking number of voters in very close race, problems are bound to crop up, but the problems encountered by citizens wanting to vote are still troubling. Young voters, who have turned out in historic numbers (they made up 19% of the vote), have also had their share of trouble at the polls. The Election Protection Coalition has recorded a litany of problems that young voters encountered. The most outrageous are listed below:
University of California San Diego, California: "It was reported that voters were being asked to step out of long line and go to other campus polling places and vote provisional ballots."
Frankfort, Kentucky: "Caller, a student, was concerned that many other students on campus who registered for the first time during voter registraton week in Aug. and Sept. with organizations from the outside conducting the registrations. She is not sure of the identity of these organizations but could find out. Many students signed up, thinking they were now going to be able to vote, but many were turned away today and told that they weren't registered, and that if they wanted to protest, they would have to see a judge. She is aware of at least 20 students who were treated thhis way. She isn't sure whether any of them actually went to see the judge. KY is an HBCU and all the students affected were African American."
Unknown university: "[At a fraternity house,] Outdated list posted outside room; students don't see name and leave."
Ball State University, Indiana: "200 voters not registered as instructed they would be by campus group"
University of West Georgia, Georgia: "Aunt calling on behalf on students at West Georgia who were turned away do to not being registered. Most of the students were from out of state and callers niece was from different county. Caller's concern was that students were not given their options or told why they were turned away. The students did not know their rights."
Wright State University, Ohio: "Poll workers weren't letting college students to vote. Caller attends Wright State University, registered to vote there back in September, but tried to vote and was told she could not."
Columbia University, New York: "Caller is calling on behalf of daughter's friend who attends college in New York City. Caller is concerned over voter intimidation at Columbia University campus in New York, New York by student group."
California: "voter observed poll worker discouraging student voters and telling them that there votes would not count."
Michigan State University, Michigan: "Caller is working with Rock The Vote as an unofficial poll watcher at Michigan State University in East Lansing Michigan. She is at Precinct 15, Wilson Hall (a dorm at MSU). She said that she was informed by an unnamed poll werker that students who live on MSU campus who have voter registration cards that identify Wilson Hall as their polling location are being turned away and told that they are not on the rolls. She said that the poll worker advised her that these voters are being told to "vote at home." It was unclear to her whether that meant at another polling place in the precinct or whether they were being told to vote at their parent's home address location."
Pratt Institute, New York: "large number of Pratt students having problems with not being in the list, and they had registered through the school as well. This particular voter was not on the list in election district 109 and had to file a paper ballot."
Lamar University, Texas: "Student at Lamar University registered through Greek Fraternity voter drive at on campus student center. Never received notice of registration going through."
Washington: "Soemone called registrar and falsely portrayed himself as voter's father, and asked that voter be unregistered!"
There are innumerable cases where students were turned away for not appearing on the voter rolls and having to cast provisional ballots. Many times it was parents and relatives and bosses who stepped up to the plate and reported problems their young relatives or workers have encountered.
It seems there have been at least a dozen cases of students registering through on-campus organization or unaffiliated group registering voters on-campus and when the students went to go vote, their names didn't appear on the voter rolls and weren't allowed to vote. This is either because the registering group didn't submit the paperwork by the deadline, the paperwork was not recieved or processed by the state election board, or the group didn't submit the forms at all.
Although the American people have spoken, not everybody had the chance to speak their part. Perhaps these will be lessons that will improve the voter experience in four years for students currently in middle and high school across the country.
People for the American Way, a part of the Election Protection coalition, has also done voter protection work this election season.